Elizabeth Jacob and Matthew Wormer Join History Department
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
The Department of History is pleased to welcome our newest faculty members, Elizabeth Jacob and Matthew Wormer. Their arrival strengthens the department’s diverse curriculum and enables student engagement with a broad range of histories, including the history of Africa, women’s and gender history, colonialism, resistance, political economy, and the history of British imperialism.
Professor Elizabeth Jacob is a historian of modern West Africa with a focus on gender, family, and politics in Côte d’Ivoire. Her current book project examines how ideas about African motherhood shape possibilities for women's political action, and how expectations of political motherhood change over time. Other research interests include decolonization, pan-Africanism, and global feminisms. Her research has been supported by institutions such as the American Philosophical Society, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Fulbright Program, and the Stanford Humanities Center. She holds a PhD in History from Stanford University, with a PhD minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a certificate in African Studies. In 2022–23, she held a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at Providence College.
Professor Matthew Wormer is a historian of Britain and the British Empire, with a particular focus on the British presence in Asia during the long nineteenth century. His research and teaching interests include histories of capitalism, race, and labor, commodities and consumption, and liberal economic and political thought. His current book project examines the production and sale of opium in British India to offer a new explanation for the outbreak of the First Opium War in 1839. At once a powerful medical analgesic, an addictive recreational narcotic, and an immensely profitable article of trade, opium raised fundamental questions about the relationship between use value and exchange value central to capitalist exchange. Transforming the plant known as papaver somniferum into the commodity “opium” entwined ideological debates over liberal political economy with the material properties of the poppy, making its production a site of moral contestation over economic value involving peasant cultivators, private traders, and colonial officials. Wormer’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Foundation, among others. He completed his PhD at Stanford University in 2022.
Both new faculty members will offer courses that provide students with the tools to engage critically with history. This fall, Professor Jacob and her students will explore African social and cultural histories in her courses, Gender and Sexuality in African History and the History of Africa since 1500, an HS DG General Education course. Professor Wormer will teach The Craft of History, introducing history majors to the methodology of historical inquiry and the philosophical questions of the discipline, and Approaches to World History, a graduate seminar on global perspectives in the practice of history.